Friday, April 28, 2017

April 28, 2017

Superintendent's Blog
April 28, 2017

Take a moment to read about so many exciting district events and student/staff accomplishments!

Be the hero of the story! Join the EWG Sr. High Drama Club as they present Big Fish the Musical.

Based on the celebrated novel by Daniel Wallace and the acclaimed film directed by Tim Burton, BIG FISH centers on Edward Bloom, a traveling salesman who lives life to its fullest… and then some! Edward’s incredible, larger-than-life stories thrill everyone around him – most of all, his devoted wife Sandra. But their son Will, about to have a child of his own, is determined to find the truth behind his father’s epic tales. Overflowing with heart, humor and spectacular stagecraft, BIG FISH is an extraordinary new Broadway musical that reminds us why we love going to the theatre – for an experience that’s richer, funnier and BIGGER than life itself.

For tickets and info please visit

The following information was provided by one proud parent:

The week of March 13- March 18 was RI Brain Week all over the state. There was a big hands-on expo at Brown, more stuff at URI (for kids) and it was all free.  In conjunction with Brain week, RI-CART (the RI Consortium for Autism Research & Treatment) and the RIHS opened an Art Show at the Museum of Work and Culture.  The Art Show includes pieces from all different mediums exclusively made by students and adults on the autism spectrum.  Here is the site:

Nolan Powers was the only student from our school district invited to participate.  He is in 3rd grade in Mrs. Barbour’s class at Metcalf Elementary.  The show runs through the end of this weekend for anyone interested in seeing the work of some gifted artists.

Our own Nicole Pichette was named the 2017 Duck  Stamp Teacher of the Year. She recently hosted our big event to a full auditorium with RI young artists, teachers across the state, Fish & Wildlife personnel, and Congressman Langevin! MANY Exeter-West Greenwich students representing all of our schools once again placed in the annual Duck Stamp contest. Great job, Nicole! 

Congratulations to Mrs. Sue Blake and Mrs. Kim Regan for being named advisors of the year for our Best Buddies program. Best Buddies is in its first year at the Senior High School, and the goal of the program is to pair students with disabilities with student mentors to build lasting and meaningful relationships through social activities. The program was recently highlighted at a School Committee meeting - what an amazing first year, and an incredible honor for our advisors to receive such recognition!

I recently visited Mrs. Johnson's third grade class at Metcalf as they were using technology to conduct research on important women in United states History. They were all extremely excited about their work as they shared new learning with me - and equally excited to be highlighted in this blog!

Last evening, Metcalf hosted its annual band concert for parents and community members. The highlight of the show was seeing Principal Ratigan sitting in the band alongside her fellow students as they shared their music for the audience. Mrs. Ratigan has been taking saxophone lessons from music teacher Miss Place and it was important to show that we are always learning! Great job to all.

Come see another production on May 11th at our Junior Senior High School. Wings is an original production of our Unified Theater group and it promises to be an inspirational and motivating experience for all to see.  

Monday, April 3, 2017

March 31, 2017

Superintendent's Blog
March 31, 2017

See announcement about the All-Day Referendum to approve the school department's budget. It is important for all to go to the polls on April 10th!!

There are so many fantastic events happening in the district. This blog highlights several elementary events from the past couple of weeks.

On March 22nd, Wawaloam and Metcalf hosted a Family Math Night and it was packed! Several families provided feedback about how much fun they had with their children while exploring mathematics. Many thanks to the teachers and administrators who contributed to the planning of such a successful opportunity for our students and their families.

On Tuesday, March 28th, Wawaloam and Metcalf gave their annual presentation to the School Committee. Principals Marino and Ratigan, along with several teachers and students, highlighted exciting programs and initiatives at their respective schools. The theme for this year's presentation was student engagement and topics included science explorations and technology applications. Below, proud student Logan J. discusses his coding projects with the Superintendent and Attorney Henneous. Fabulous job, Logan!

Metcalf held its Creative arts Night on Thursday, March 30th. Framed student art work was on display from every child in grades three through six.

Mrs. Scheff led the Metcalf chorus in a special presentation to the guests.

Other activities included poetry, games, and crazy pictures. Students and faculty shared in the fun. Below, Mrs. McWeeney (the snorkler) and Mrs. Pucino (the shark), took the photo of the evening.

MONDAY, APRIL 10, 2017

Vote at your convenience 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
West Greenwich Town Hall or Exeter Town Hall

On Monday, April 10th an all day referendum will be held to approve the school district budget for the 2017-2018 school year. The E-WG School Committee approved budget is $31,733,320.  This represents a 3.40% increase to the Operating Budget over the previous fiscal year. Based upon actual student population from each member town, the local contribution from West Greenwich will increase by 4.00%, and from Exeter by 2.37%.

The school department continues to experience significant reductions in State aid as a result of the RI School Funding Formula and reductions to regional transportation and group home aid. Additionally, the cost of employee health care has increased by $1.2 million, and we are required to open up new elementary classrooms at four different grade levels based upon enrollment.

Like you, we are very proud of our schools. The School Committee and Administration have worked together to develop, manage and maintain a responsible annual budget. We are accommodating a growing student population through reorganization within existing school facilities, while maintaining an excellent curriculum and programs.

With the continued support of our valued communities, the School District will maintain its focus on academic distinction and student success.  Please,


Where do I vote?
Exeter voters vote at the Exeter Town Hall located at 675 Ten Rod Road, Exeter and West Greenwich voters vote at the West Greenwich Town Hall located at 280 Victory Highway, West Greenwich.  The polls will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. at both locations for your convenience.

Please bring canned goods & pasta to restock the food banks in both towns. 


Friday, March 3, 2017

March 3, 2017

Superintendent's Blog
March 3, 2017

The Exeter-West Greenwich School Committee approved the Superintendent's Recommended Budget for the 2017-2018 school year at its last regularly scheduled meeting. Although this year presented us with many challenges as we worked through the budget development process (Most notably, the significant increase in health care costs and addressing the continued trend of increased enrollment at our elementary schools), we have worked hard to maintain quality educational programming while also limiting, to the extent possible, the financial impact on the taxpayers of our member towns. The all-day referendum (ADR) will be held on April 10, 2017. Look for a mailing sent from the school department outlining the details of the ADR.

As we begin to look toward next school year, there are several new and/or exciting changes to anticipate:
  • Grade 2 will move from Wawaloam to Metcalf Elementary School, changing Metcalf's configuration to a grades 2 through 6 school. This will address space and parking issues at Wawaloam and allow us to expand the number of K-1 classrooms as enrollment increases.
  • New classrooms are budgeted for kindergarten, Grade 3 and Grade 4 based on known enrollment. We are also closely monitoring projections for Grade 1 as we could very well open up a seventh grade 1 classroom next school year. 
  • Consistent with the goals set out in our 5-year strategic plan, children at Metcalf in grades 2 through 6 will have a sixth "special" built into their rotation - Spanish. 
  • Band and Chorus will continue to be available to children during the school day at Metcalf.
  • Students in grade 8 will have the option of selecting a year-long special in an area of particular interest as they begin to think about pathways and opportunities in the upcoming high school years. Year-long specials will include Spanish, French, Technology or Art. 
  • At the Senior High School, we are introducing a new AP offering in Biology. We have also worked out a new scheduling plan for AP courses that adds more flexibility to students and increases opportunities for them to engage in rigorous coursework.
  • Additional student supports will be in place at the Senior High School to address students' particular academic needs as we continue to strive for graduation for all students in EWG.

I am proud of the fact that we maintained our focus on the goals set out in our strategic plan while we worked to build a budget that required us to make some difficult decisions in order to limit the overall operations increase. 

Congratulations to the SHS for the most recent report released by the Rhode Island Department of Education on high school graduation rates. Our district improved from an 83% graduation rate in 2015 to a 94% graduation rate in 2016. That is an amazing accomplishment and we should all be VERY proud! The full report is available for review by following the link below:

                                                             RI Graduation Rates
Students in Mrs. Corcoran's classroom were recently filmed during a science lesson at Wawaloam School. The video will be used for training purposes as the GEMS-Net consortium continues to strive for excellence in science instruction across its member districts. It is amazing to see first graders confidently communicate like scientists and engage in deep learning about the content. Congratulations to Mrs. Corcoran for the well-deserved recognition that once again puts our district in the spotlight. View the entire video below to get a sense of what science class looks like in our primary grades.

Friday, January 27, 2017

January 27, 2017

Superintendent's Blog
January 27, 2015

This month, I am highlighting some of the many opportunities that make EWG a great learning community.

The new Metcalf chorus program has really taken off! We are so pleased to be able to offer this option during the school day for our fifth and sixth grade students! I had the opportunity to attend Ms. Place's very first chorus concert last week where more than fifty of our students shared their talents with family and friends. Also, congratulations to the seven students selected for this year's all-state elementary school chorus!  They are:

Avery Andrews
Devon Cranston
Hailey Horne
Hannah Brown
Hannah Pearson
Maya Horne
Rebecca Kilday

The Amgen-Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program that we started last year with sixth grade students at Metcalf has now expanded to include seventh graders as well. The following message from one proud parent was shared with the school:

"I wanted to share this with the school because it was a pretty special moment!  My daughter, Jillian (7th grade, White Knights) was asked to participate in a press conference last week with Governor Raimondo and Congressman Langevin, regarding the mentor program organized by Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ocean State, between EWGJHS students and Amgen employees.  She stood on a stage with her mentor and a microphone ... and spoke for 3 minutes to an audience of over 100 people ... and she nailed it!!!

They discussed how the program has helped her, what she likes most about it, etc.  I have it on video if anyone would like to see it. She definitely made me proud and I'm sure the school would feel the same."
Check out the video by following the link below. We are all very proud!


Attention EWG Parents and Community -  Due to popular demand, The Partnership With Parents Program is hosting the “2nd showing” of the nationally acclaimed documentary entitled, “SCREENAGERS”.  This is a true story about a family who learned about the complex world of social media with their 13 year old daughter and how best to keep her safe and well balanced.  An open discussion will follow the presentation.  Check it out on  

Many have asked to see it online; but, it is only available via a contractual payment basis by our district.  So, PLEASE make every effort to attend as this is the last time we will be hosting this event which affects every student, family and faculty member!  Please join us on Wed., Feb. 1, 2017 from 6:30pm - 8:30pm in the EWG Junior/Senior Library (snow date, Feb. 2, 2017).  Any questions, contact Catherine Murray, Middle School Counselor at 397-6898 x 219 or  

Our SHS AP English class had a "once in a lifetime" opportunity to visit the JFK Library in Boston to view the Ernest Hemingway exhibit. Mr. Robitaille sent the following message regarding the experience: "Not only were they able to experience the rare documents on display in the regular exhibit, but they also received a VIP-style tour of the "inner sanctum," where some of the rarest pieces are kept. We were guided by one of the nation's leading Hemingway experts. Dr. Justice didn't just show us around, either. She guided the class through one of the most intense close reading experiences I have ever had, using the only existing handwritten draft of one of Hemingway's most famous stories. Her passion for the subject was infectious, giving us all a renewed enthusiasm for the power of the writing process, as well as an unprecedented insight into the mind of one of our greatest authors."


The Lineham playground improvements are complete! Day 1 of play was a huge success, which can only be described through pictures.





Check out the following link to see some of the creative offerings that our JSHS library-media specialist, Ms. Winner, has organized for students and their families. I am proud to say that our libraries are evolving to meet the changing needs of our students and the society they are growing up in.

Monday, December 19, 2016

December 19, 2016

Superintendent's Blog

A simple way to increase the probability of student success: Regular Attendance at School

Recently, school administrators have been engaged in several discussions, workshops and webinars related to school attendance. Chronic absenteeism from school is a national crisis, and Exeter-West Greenwich is no different. While we do not experience the same high levels of chronic absenteeism as some other districts in our state and nation, the fact is that many of our children have developed patterns of regular non-attendance that are of significant concern.

Chronic absenteeism from school is defined as missing 10% or more of the school year (18 or more days for a 180-day school year). This amounts to an average of just 2 days or more per month.... and while that statistic does not appear to be alarming, reputable national studies indicate otherwise.

Here are some real statistics from those national and state studies:

Nationally, 64% of third graders who missed less than 5% of school days in both grades K and 1 scored proficient on third grade ELA state assessments.

Only 43% of third graders who missed just 5-9% of school days in both grades K and 1 scored proficient on the same state assessments.

And for those third grade students who missed 10% or more of school days in both grades K and 1 - only 17% were proficient on the third grade ELA assessments.

In Rhode Island, 75% of students who were not chronically absent in kindergarten scored proficient in third grade ELA compared to only 57% of their chronically absent peers. In math, the figures for the same students are 68% compared to 43%

80% of Rhode Island seventh graders who were not chronically absent in kindergarten scored proficient in seventh grade ELA compared to only 61% of their chronically absent peers. In math, the figures for the same students are 67% compared to 40%

In another study, students with just one year of chronic absenteeism in grades 1 through 5 were 5.9 times more likely to be chronically absent in grade 6. Students with two years of chronic absenteeism in grades 1 through 5 were 7.8 times more likely to be chronically absent in grade 6. And students who were chronically absent three times in grades 1 through 5 were 18.0 times more likely to be chronically absent in grade 6. Patterns of good attendance are established early in a child's educational career... and it matters a lot!

In Exeter-West Greenwich, we are taking a close look at our graduation rates and drop-out rates at the high school level. The trend is concerning. Although addressing the issue will require a multi-faceted approach, attendance at school is one of the variables that everyone can help us to improve.

In another study of high school drop out rates, students with zero years of chronic absenteeism in grades 8-12 had a 10.3% drop out rate. Students with just one year of chronic absenteeism in grades 8-12 had a 36.4% drop out rate. Students with two years of chronic absenteeism in grades 8-12 had a 51.8% drop out rate. Students with 4 years of chronic absenteeism in grades 8-12 had a 61.3% drop out rate.

We realize that people get sick, and sometimes absences are necessary. However, these statistics show that taking time out of school is not something that any of us should take lightly. We have many outstanding and dedicated educators who want what is best for all of our students, but it is hard to recreate the dynamics of classroom instruction for a student who is not present on any given day. We want our students present, and we want you to help us by understanding the importance of regular school attendance and conveying that message to every child. 

Last year in our school district, 19% of students in grades K-3 were absent 12 or more days. 14% of our middle school students were absent 12 or more days. 20% (1 out of every 5) of our high school students were absent 12 or more days. We have some work to do.

Take proper precautions to stay healthy. Dress to prevent sickness. Eat well. Always get a good night's sleep. Reach out if there is a way the EWG community can assist in any way to resolve issues that may interfere with regular attendance at school. We are committed to the best possible outcomes for every child, from preschool through graduation.

Check out the happiness on this third grade student's face after setting a personal goal for improving his math fluency, working hard to achieve that goal, and finding out that he actually reached it. This is what it is all about. Anything is possible if you show up and engage. 

Congratulations, Brody, on a job well done and Happy Holidays to all!

Monday, November 28, 2016

November 22, 2016

Superintendent's Blog

Please find below some information about two fantastic events that you do not want to miss!

Attention EWG Parents and Community - The Partnership With Parents Program is hosting the nationally acclaimed documentary entitled, “SCREENAGERS”.  This is a true story about a family who learned about the complex world of social media with their 13 year old daughter and how best to keep her safe and well balanced.  An open discussion will follow the presentation.  Check it out on  Please join us on Tue., Dec. 6, 2016 from 6pm - 8pm in the EWG Junior/Senior Library.  Any questions, contact Catherine Murray, Middle School Counselor at 397-6898 x 219 or

EWG Senior High Drama presents:
Clues: An Interactive Murder Mystery

Join a zany cast of colorful character for a dinner party where the
main course is motive for murder. Our audience will help solve who
done it in this hilarious Clue inspired show. For tickets and more info please visit


The best way to be informed about school closings, delays, and early dismissals is through the RIBA Alert Messaging Program. 

Visit your favorite radio or television website now to register for ALERT MESSAGING to your cell phone. Be notified immediately when there is a cancellation, delay or emergency message relating to your child's school.

ALERT MESSAGING registration for the Rhode Island Broadcasters Association cancellation system can be found on radio and television stations home page or under the weather tab. Click Here for a list of stations and websites addresses.

Happy Holidays!